Australia Day 2021

It’s the last day of the unofficial four-day weekend, and also the hottest day of the current four-day long heatwave that is clenching south-eastern Australia. We are expected to get some reprieve from the heat tomorrow, but there wont be a sudden cooling down this evening – it’s still going to be quite warm at midnight, and cool gently into a milder day tomorrow.

I got up this morning, had breakfast, and was just about to get a batch of sourdough that I’d made yesterday out of the fridge to shape into a loaf for baking… and the power went out.

A check of the power company website confirmed a blackout across a couple of suburbs, affecting approximately 1700 homes. Interestingly, my property was right on the edge of the affected zone, as shown on the map. Close enough such that the block of townhouses next door to us still had power. Anyway, not knowing when I’d have power to use the oven, I left the dough in the fridge, and hoped that the blackout wouldn’t last long enough for frozen things to start melting.

It’s sobering how little of your normal daily routine you can do with no power. Instead I did a session of stretching exercises. Then I was bored enough to clean the bathroom, thoroughly washing the floor and then polishing the tiles, and start work on cleaning the kitchen. The power came back about 9:30 am, and I immediately turned the air conditioning on, because it was already getting very hot.

Sydney city reached 37°C, and some suburban areas approached 42°C. The city is almost always cooler because it’s close to the coast, and inland suburbs hotter. It was the hottest Australia Day for some large number of years which I forget – something of the order of 50 or 60 years. And, including the day before the heatwave officially began, Sydney recorded its 5th consecutive day of temperatures above 30°C – which is a thing that has happened only 7 times since weather records began in 1858. And all 7 of those 5-day high temperature streaks occurred either this summer or last summer. Sydney had never experienced 5 days that hot in a row before 2019.

Outdoors was oven-like, and also very humid by the way. This was not a “dry heat” by any stretch of the imagination. It was oppressively humid. I had to take Scully out for toilets a couple of times, and although I stood still, in the deep shade of a tree, and in fact there was a bit of a breeze, I was still dripping with sweat after a couple of minutes. So we spent most of the day inside with the air conditioning making things bearable.

Until about 3:20 pm when my wife and I settled down to watch the first episode of series 11 of Doctor Who – the first Jodie Whitaker episode. I had navigated the DVD menu and my thumb was just about to press the button to start playing the episode… and the power went off again. Checking the power company map on my phone, the same area was affected, but with a few additional small areas as well.

Again, it didn’t come back on for a couple of hours, during which the house slowly got warmer. So we had about 4 hours without power in total, over two separate blackouts. I have no idea what the problem was. I can only hope that it doesn’t occur again.

Time for some ice cream… I think.

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